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Kevin Powell

Heaven Hell Dave Chappelle

None can imagine what it is like to be Dave Chappelle on this very night. No one. Here he is, the comic genius of America, curbside at the aristocratic Beverly Hills hotel Raffles L'Ermitage, Hollywood's new celebrity magnet, pacing back and forth, habitually fielding phone calls and thumbing through his BlackBerry and inhaling Camel after Camel as he anticipates a ride to the 2006 Grammy Awards from Chris Tucker, a longtime friend and funnyman frat brother.

Disrobed of his customary hip-hop uniform of sagging, ballooned jeans, agitprop T-shirt, tennis shoes (as they say in the Midwest), and a charcoal-black hoodie, Chappelle is wearing a brown pinstripe suit, a crisp white shirt, a coffee-colored tie, and tan leather shoes--very much resembling a young man in a courtroom awaiting his fate. And appearing very uncomfortable, as if he is in the wrong costume for a morality play in which he is the reluctant lead actor. Certainly, it is hard to say what, precisely, is running through Dave Chappelle's mind on this muggy February evening in southern California. On the surface, at least, he is at once excited and mad nervous.
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